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Villagers Forced Promoter To Remove Earth From Filled Up Pond

2015-05-26 23:56

Laborers removing earth from pond in Chakdaha Kalitala and uploading it to a tractor. Picture by DEBASISH MUKHERJEE

NfN NETWORK

Chakdaha, May 26: Coming under pressure of the local residents, a land promoter in Chakdaha town in Nadia has been forced to re-excavate a pond, which he allegedly filled up with earth barely a fortnight ago.

For the last three days, promoter Tarak De has been removing earth using around a dozen of laborers from a 10-cottah pond in Ghugia-Kalitala area under Ward-12 of Chakdaha town, which he filled up after purchasing in the name of his wife from Swapan Chatterjeee, a local resident.

At a time when wet lands are being filled randomly violating environmental aspect and the existing laws, this unusual re-excavation of pond, has been made possible due to collective resistance of the local people.

Chakdaha Biggyan O Sanskriti Sangha (C-BOSS), a local science organization, however, has played the role of catalyst in developing awareness against filling up of the pond among locals.

C-BOSS member Bibartan Bhattacharjee said: “In Chakdaha area wet land are being filled up illegally at random by the land mafias with support of a section of the ruling party. We told the villagers to resist such attempt for sake of their future which they realized”.

Chakdaha Municipal authority, however, yet to lodge any complaint against the promoter Tarak De, of Pairadanga, who purchased the land in the name of his wife Sandhya De and planned to sale as residential plots.

Chairman Dipak Chakraborty said: “It is a good sign that local people have resisted filling up of the pond. The Municipal run Ward committee has extended support to them and asked the promoter to remove the earth. If the promoter did not return the original status of the pond, we will take necessary legal action”.

However, local people have raised question that why the Ward committee was silent when the promoter was filling the pond in the dark of night.

Senior officials at the district land and land reforms department were surprised finding no complaint from Chakdaha municipality.

An officer said: “As per section 4 (a), (b), (c) (d) of the West Bengal land reforms act 1954 and 1956 filling up of any wet land having an area over 5 cotta (0.035 hector) is prohibited. The West Bengal central inland fisheries act 1995 also prohibits filling up of pond. Such filling up of pond or wet land is a cognizable non-bailable offence under section 149 of Cr PC”.

The Nadia administration in last month asked Chakdaha BDO, BLRO and Police to file specific cases against a promoter for illegally filling up a pond in Ruppur mouza in Shimurali.

A local resident on anonymity said: “We were apprehensive about the motive of the promoter since the pond was sold. We farmers largely depend on this pond for decomposing the raw jute. Moreover, this pond saves this area from inundation containing the rain water. But, on a night early this month we saw that laborers filling the pond with earth brought in tractors. We told local leaders, but none paid any attention. We could not raise our voice as we were afraid of political support behind the promoter. Later we gathered the courage and told the promoter to remove earth immediately otherwise we will remove it. It was little later, still we also told the Ward committee to ensure it”.

Promoter Tarak De compelled to agree to remove the earth under pressure. The re-excavation started three days ago. Promoter Tarak De said: “I was under pressure so I decided to remove earth to avoid problem”.

Original owner Sankar Chatterjee refused to comment. He also denied the amount he got by selling it to Tarak.

Raju Som, a local resident said: “The promoter argued that it is not a pond, but the LR map clearly has shown it as a pond with an area of over 10-cottah. If this pond were filled up, the local farmers would suffer largely. We told the promoter to remove the earth immediately otherwise the villagers will do it”.

Secretary of the Ward Committee (W-12) Sukanta Mandal said: “We have sent letter to the promoter asking him to remove the earth. If he does not return its original status, we will request the ChakdahaMunicipality to take legal action against him”.

Bibartan Bhattacharjee, a member of Chakdaha Biggyan O Sanskriti Sangha said: “It is good that the ward committee has extended support to local people, but it should have played a proactive role while the pond was being filled up. Moreover, the municipality should also lodge a complaint against the promoter for illegally filling the pond”.

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